Carmona, Cavite—American Christopher Hichman and Angelo Que slowed down despite a change in tee-time but moved up the rankings just the same with 66 and 67, respectively, as Aussie Tim Stewart and a number of early contenders wavered in the heat and wind in the second round of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship at the Legends course here.
Tough pin placements likewise took the best from the bidders in the $100,000 event serving as the third leg of the third season of Philippine Golf Tour Asia as the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout proved a lot tougher in blustery conditions with a number of pre-tournament favorites missing the 50-plus ties cut at 143. They included last year’s winner Jay Bayron (71-144), first leg winner at Luisita Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand (73-144), multi-titled Tony Lascuña (74-144) and reigning PGT Order of Merit winner Jobim Carlos (75-151).
But Hichman and Que, who bucked a late first round start to shoot a pair of 65s, came through with superb iron shots that set up a number of birdie chances with the former, who toughened up in the PGA Series-China the last four months with a top five finish in the Sanya Championship in Haikou last April, gunning down five of the last 11 holes for a couple of 33s and an 11-under 131.
Que, who had taken a break from his Japan PGA Tour campaign to join the title hunt in this $100,000 event serving as the third leg of the third season of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia, hit three birdies in the first six holes at the back then overcame two bogeys with three more birdies, the last on the ninth that capped a 34-33 card for a 132.
“I had a lot of birdie chances and I’m glad I made most of them,” said Hichman, who moved 36 holes away from marking his first foray on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia with a victory.
“This is my first time to play on the PGT and at Southwoods, whose greens fit my short game. I love the humid weather, just like our weather back home,” added the 25-year-old journeyman from Maryland, who birdied No. 5 for the second straight day but yielded the stroke on the next, also for the second straight time.
Que defied the early gusts with steady play but rued his missed birdie putts inside seven feet on Nos. 5, 8 and 13, which had he made would’ve pushed the former Philippine Open champ past Hichman.
“The course is in good condition but the wind came into play right on the first hole,” said Que, who placed third in Kansai Open last month but didn’t fare well in the Japan PGA Championship last week.
But looming large again, for the nth time, is Juvic Pagunsan, who recovered from a mediocre 70 start with a sizzling bogey-free 63 anchored on hot putter as region’s former No. 1 jumped from joint 33rd to fourth at 133, just a couple of strokes off the pace.
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